Seven Years in Tibet (1997)

16.

★★

Directed by: Jean-Jacques Annaud
Written by: Becky Johnston
Starring: Brad Pitt, David Thewlis, BD Wong

It takes forever to get here.

Based on the true story of an Austrian mountaineer and his friendship with the Dalai Lama during World War II and China’s takeover of Tibet, Seven Years in Tibet crosses borders to remarkable landscapes that show off  the film’s brilliant cinematography and a civilization marked by their religious philosophies and distinct culture. This scenic route, however, takes the long way round to tell a story.  Taking its sweet time to the get to the self-discovery and change that we can predict in Brad Pitt’s character, Heinrich, Seven Years in Tibet could have been much more economical in its plot and character development instead of lingering on ideas and rest stops that drag and feel repetitive.

Films that travel great distances and traverse far away lands can easily rely on the grand scale of their location to inspire awe in its viewers. On top of that, countries with interesting cultures can fascinate us and open up opportunities for the characters to humorously and meaningfully interact with its people. But no matter how high the mountains are or how vast the landscapes, it isn’t enough to disguise a film that has to take pains to extend a story that could easily get to the point a lot faster and in a more engaging way. Due to its meandering pace and slow progress, Brad Pitt’s performance is lost in a sense of repetition and a bad Austrian accent. Nevertheless, Seven Years in Tibet  brings to the screen a personal story based in historic contexts that are rife with conflict, drama and eye-opening lessons.

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